Mob Wife: A Mafia Comedy
Reviewed – 24th January 2019
“The frenetic, knockabout comedy of the second half is more effective than the stodgier and sedate first”
This new mafia musical by Michael Mott and Corey Skaggs is typical screwball stuff. All is not well on mob wife Debra Delbono’s (Ashleigh Aston) a tenth anniversary with her husband, and newly promoted mob boss, Tony. He seems ill-at-ease in his new role, flowers have arrived at the house from a mysterious woman and rumours are swirling that her psychopathic father, Vincenzo (James Edge), may have somehow wangled his way off death row. Misunderstandings and hijinks duly ensue.
The parodic mobster shtick has been done an awful lot and this show doesn’t shy away from the ‘yous guys’ and ‘cup of cowafee’ cliches. It feels overlong – well over two hours – and the plot (while intentionally ridiculous) borders on incomprehensible at times. The songs are generally solid and performed with gusto by a ten-strong cast but are not particularly memorable and will need some lyrical tweaks. The show could also be staged more imaginatively: despite the Cockpit’s generous thrust space, several scenes are bunched up at the back of the stage and the blocking feels awkward and under-rehearsed in places.
The show is at its best when it leans into its more farcical instincts. The frenetic, knockabout comedy of the second half is more effective than the stodgier and sedate first. Some running jokes are mined effectively with one magnificent payoff at the start of the second act. Dru Stephenson stands out as Debra’s sassy and quick-tempered confidant, Joanne Trevesani, and makes the most of some of the best lines in the show. I particularly enjoyed her description of her car: ‘the deep cherry cadillac parked in the disabled spot’. Elsewhere, Matt Bond gives an extraordinary vocal performance as Tony Delbono which is worth the price of admission alone.
It’s far from groundbreaking, and will need a good deal of refinement, but it’s a sufficiently diverting evening out.
Reviewed by Joe Spence
Mob Wife: A Mafia Comedy
Cockpit Theatre until 26th January
Previously reviewed at this venue:
V for Victory
Reviewed – 26th March 2018
“they have succeeded in conveying a real sense of community and wartime resilience”
Claiming to be “an original take on the classic war musical”, V For Victory follows a group of young friends as they stand together in resistance against the German occupation of Jersey during the Second World War. The subject matter in itself is intriguing as there is a distinct lack of wartime musicals at the moment, let alone any documenting personal stories of the inhabitants of the Channel Islands during this period. Directed by Anthony Orme, this brief run marks V For Victory’s premiere and is “an abridged version displaying all of the musical elements of the show, with reduced scenes and narration throughout”.
From the moment the audience enter the performance space they are transported to the 1940s, with wartime songs such as “In the Mood” playing and simple, but effective, design elements on stage, such as wartime posters and the flag of Jersey.
Over the course of the production we are introduced to central characters and presented with their personal stories. There are some good performances from the actors in these roles, most notably Aaron Bannister-Davies (Thomas Carter), Georgina Rose Hanson (Liz Edwards) and Alex Wadham (Capt. Gunther Schneider). These actors give particularly engaging performances, coupled with strong vocals.
Aside from the strong individual performances, the most powerful moments in the production occur in the group musical numbers and scenes. All cast members’ voices blend well together and they have succeeded in conveying a real sense of community and wartime resilience. The close-knit relationships and bonds the characters share are clear to see.
Accompanying the actors’ vocals is a backing track, as well as live keyboard accompaniment from Composer, Günther Fiala. This occasionally overpowers the vocals and makes it difficult to hear some of the lyrics, but is something that can be easily fixed.
Although a condensed version of the full production, this premiere of V For Victory packs a punch. Some characters could perhaps do with a bit of development but, if Now You Know Productions go on to stage the musical in full, this could no doubt be done. Overall, V For Victory is a powerful production, highlighting an important period of history and the strength and determination of the people of Jersey during such challenging times.
Reviewed by Emily K Neal
Photography by Anthony Orme
V for Victory